Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Hitting an ESL brick wall

Because of exam time in schools I managed to get one break at work yesterday. I decided not to waste all of my time so prepared some stuff that I'd have to do at a later date. I was making questions for my classes when I temporarily hit a wall.

In over four years of doing this job I've asked many questions with depressingly predictable answers for the most part, certainly there has been little variation in responses. Every week I prepare questions for my three levels of students for listening classes. This is almost the same as when I was teaching reading. The questions check comprehension and then go on to discussion (if possible).

Now I find myself running out of new questions. Yes, the students change but there is a rotation of questions that I can choose from given the material I am working with. I try to be creative but I am as tired of hearing the same tired replies as I am of asking the same things. In short, I am restricted by the levels I teach. However, I have no wish to teach a higher level. The problem then is mine.

Is running out of questions even a possibility? Is there some failing on my part? Variables change but something is remaining constant, me. Who, what, where, when and why. Now five of my least favourite words in English. I am temporarily frustrated by the repetition. It's pay day so I am sure this phase will pass.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Taekwondo black belt test: Review

That was a long, long day. Not getting much sleep the night before was inevitable but I woke feeling OK and ready to go. I mistimed my morning and didn't prepare too well before heading to the dojang at 10am. It didn't mean I was behind though as we spent two hours preparing for the days events before heading off to the basketball stadium.

We sat close to the action, as we first witnessed most of the kids warming up and following instructions from the judge who was conducting some kind of ceremony. We just sat and watched. And then they drew the numbers for the poomsaes we would be performing. Of course we would have to start with number eight but the first drawn number was seven, which I was ready for. And then we waited for the final number to be drawn. But it never came, instead (I could not get a satisfactory answer from anyone) they decided not to choose another one, but to tell you what poomsae you do lastly just two seconds before you start to do it.

All I could think was "What?! Are you kidding me?". As I write this I still do not understand why they did that. I couldn't see the benefit whatsoever. But those were the rules and we had to participate the way we were told to. This meant we had to practice every single poomsae just in case it was chosen. Well this wasn't the end of the world. We had already practiced them all week and one the day, it was just a bit disappointing. I watched a few of the kids take their test before going outside to practice again. It was raining outside and their was precious little shelter but again we just had to deal with it.

About two, two and a half hours after arriving we were called to line up. Minutes later we were about to take our test and it dawned on us that I'd be fighting Diana. That was another blow! The two of us practiced the fighting in the morning and it just didn't feel right. I didn't feel comfortable aiming kicks at a woman. Also I don't think it was fair for her to be 'fighting' a man when she must have thought she'd be taking on someone smaller than her.

So our test started and it went well. Poomsae number eight, or Taegeuk Pal-jang, went smoothly for me. Of course I must have made mistakes but I couldn't complain about it. Next, poomsae number seven, or Taegeuk Chil-jang, went well too. I was feeling pretty confident by now. Onto the third, undecided one and the instructor said Taegeuk Sa-jang and my mind went blank.

For a minute I forgot what number Sa is in Korean (four). I didn't see his hand indicate what it was either as we started. So I screwed up a little here, I made a mistake and was a little slow starting but three seconds in I was doing OK, not good but OK. I just hope I am given a little slack with that one. We moved onto the fighting part and even though I was apprehensive that too went well, for both of us.

Before I knew it we had finished. The whole thing took about four minutes in total. As we finished I think we all thought the same, that we had done well and we had really tried our best but we could not say for sure if we'd passed. We now have to wait three weeks before finding out. If I fail it won't have been for lack of effort. I gave it my all and if it's not good enough then I will just have to pass next time round. The whole day was exhausting and seemed to go on forever though it was enjoyable and I am glad that I did it. If successful I will have gone from white belt to black belt in seven months. That's some leap. We'll just have to wait and see. It was nice to have some beers yesterday and say I really deserved them.

Friday, 25 June 2010

TKD test day tomorrow

Test day is upon us and tomorrow it's put up or shut up, kind of. I'm trying to be philisophical about the whole thing. I've prepared and practiced and even lost weight in the lead up to this. There's not much more I could have done really. If I pass I pass, if I fail so be it. My wife will be watching me at taekwondo for the first time. I don't want to embarrass her so I really want to do well.

To be honest I've not been so nervous in the build up, mainly due to hapkido test experience but I know this will change. Nerves are good, they show you care about something. As long as nerves don't turn into panic I'll be happy. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of adrenalin anyway.

Tomorrow is going to seem like a very long day though. Up before 8am to eat breakfast and watch videos of the poomsaes. Then stretching at home before leaving for my dojang at 10am. There should be an hour or so's practice before eating some kind of lunch and then heading off around about 12-ish to the stadium, yes stadium. The test will be where Daegu Orions basketball team plays, capacity of over 5,000 people. Of course there won't be that many there. The crowd dissipates after the kids have finished and they won't be watching me but I won't deny it's a little intimidating thinking about it.

The first set of tests are for the kids, these may take two hours or so and then onto the adults. I think my actual start time will be around 3pm. Luckily I won't be taking the test alone, I will be taking it with my friend and co-worker, Diana, and the taekwondo masters wife. It will be good to be around the people who I've trained and shared experiences with.

So what happens in the tests? Before any student takes the test, there are the usual rituals, bowing, showing respect to judges and officials etc, etc, and maybe even some kind of display. Then the interesting thing happens, a judge draws two numbers. You see, up till black belt there are eight poomsaes (or patterns) to learn. When you are testing for the black belt you must do the last pattern you learned and then two others are drawn at random. Naturally the lower the number the easier the poomsae going up to eight, judged to be the most difficult up to that level.

Two months ago I watched people take the tests and on that day the numbers drawn were eight, seven and six. In theory the hardest three possible. I am comfortable with number eight as I am with number six but seven and five represent challenges and show up my weakness'. As long as my memory serves me well I will be OK. Technique, well it's not so great but there's nothing I can do about it now. Luck of the draw, or not, we shall see.

How will everything be judged? Will officials show leniency as long as there is effort? How many mistakes are allowed? Are you expected to be perfect doing the easiest poomsaes but given more slack for the difficult ones? Do the foreigners have to work extra hard to impress? Well there's not too much point in worrying about things I don't know the answer to or can't change.

So after the three poomsaes are over you move onto the final part, the fighting. Or sparring, or whatever it's called. I will be up against someone who I have never met before who will be trying to outdo me. No physical contact is allowed but you must be aggressive and show as many kicks as you can. It's not dangerous but is exhausting for me. Will I be up against someone bigger and fitter than me? Regardless, it's not boxing, both people can pass so you can't be eliminated.

And that's it. Sounds simple, and it could be but I bet my heart will be pumping when I start.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Korean food delights: Part 3 삼 계탕

It's been a long time since I wrote about trying out some new food here. The other week, after talking about having some for over a year I finally got to try out some samgyetang. For those of you who don't know, samgyetang is essentially a chicken based soup containing ginseng, rice and other ingredients. It's mostly a full chicken without the insides, boiled in broth with some vegetables and of course, ginseng.

Samgyetang is a popular dish in Korea and can be eaten all year round but is famous for being eaten by many in Summer. It is said to boost stamina during those very hot months by replacing lost nutrients that you may be sweating out. Many Koreans eat this dish at Chobok, Jungbok, and Malbok. Chobok traditionally represents what is thought to be the first really hot day of the year, Junbok the peak and Malbok the ending of the intense Korean Summer.

I can't say for sure if it did boost my stamina but the first thing I noticed when I walked into one famous place in down town Daegu was the smell. The aroma of ginseng was striking but not overbearing. It took some time to get used to it but it was never unpleasant.

The price of the meal was ₩10,000, roughly £9 and the portion was quite large, indeed I didn't manage to finish all of mine. My wife happily wolfed down all of hers though. My initial impression was that it was a little bland but after adding some much needed salt it tasted surprisingly refreshing. Of course it is always nice to have chicken soup, wherever it's from.

For me there was a little too much rice in my portion to really enjoy it fully. I like rice but this took on a consistency similar to the Korean dish juk, which is a porridge like meal. When I was ill here in 2006 I had to eat that for about five days and the memory is not so pleasant and I think this prevented me from enjoying my meal to the fullest.

Overall I would really recommend anyone here trying samgyetang. It's tasty, cheap and refreshing on a Summer day. I know I will try it again. You can learn more about samgyetang by checking out Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Student ponders divorce implications

In class with my high level students. Numbers are down right now due to retest exemption but this kids mother forces him to go. Taking about divorce, this Middle school boy answered my question as fast as was possible.

Q: "If your parents divorce how could your life change?"

A: "Terrible! If I go with my father maybe I will have no breakfast. If I go with my mother maybe I will have no money."

Monday, 21 June 2010

5 day self-challenge

Lately I've not been looking after myself as much as I should though I've actually lost weight recently so can't be doing myself too much harm. I haven't been treating my body badly at all but considering I have a black belt test on Saturday I need to be in peak condition so need to make a few last minute changes.

Firstly, stop drinking beer. I've been having a beer or two - no big amounts - as I watch the World Cup games. This has to stop for this week. I need to drink water or juice and only those two. I can't believe I've lost weight so cutting down on the booze would really help keep the weight down, for now. If I can couple this with eating some healthy food then that would be great too.

Secondly I need to try and sleep a but more than I have been. That's easier said than done because it's s humid at night that sleeping is just plain difficult. There have been a few late nights watching England so I need to limit these for now too.

Thirdly and most importantly, exercise as hard as I can when at my taekwondo dojang. Really push myself to my limits and give everything. I still don't know if it will be enough but I've got to give it a go. My memory seems to serving me well right now, it's certainly better on the poomsaes but my technique, well it need a lot of work.

What I put into this week will be what I get out of it eventually. Hopefully it will be a nice new black belt and not something to be disappointed about.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Quote of the day

Yesterday as class four finished the kids lined up to leave the room, one boy, a really nice boy comes up to me and says, "Teacher are you a Serb?"

Friday, 18 June 2010

Long day at work

Yesterday, full of ups and downs and some in between. Starting with taekwondo where we continue to practice for the test on the 26th. After our session I went home to finish my bi-monthly student reports. These are easy to do as they are filled out on-line and don't usually involve any typing. I've managed to finish mine four days before their due date so I can now have a work free weekend.

Unfortunately I didn't have much time to myself in the afternoon because there was a work meeting for the foreign teachers. This was pretty straight forward but I think it was a good idea for this to take place as we have a new teacher at our branch and it's always good to brush up things. It lasted an hour and it highlighted a few things I was doing wrong but also reminded me that mainly, I am doing what they are asking me to.

After that there was hardly any preparation for my days classes but my first class was being observed my foreign manager (basically my boss - my branch manager is not really my boss). I got to choose the class being evaluated and chose my first and they didn't let me down. I think things went well, I did what she wanted to hear and am expecting a decent write-up. I'll be shocked if it's ultra critical.

And then onto the rest of the day. Elementary school kid numbers were down on the day as many were preparing for Fridays big school test. This meant that things were more relaxed and I actually got to play a few games with some kids. I had only two Middle school classes and numbers were down greatly due to two reasons, firstly because they are studying for exams again and some have class exemption and secondly because of the World Cup game against Argentina. On occasions like this with four and three students in class I play a straight bat and go through all the material in class as normal. The kids don't want to be there and I don't want to be either and from experience, doing the work ends up being 'less painful' as a lesson than playing a game that they are 'too good for'.

Classes were punctured with screams of joy and encouragement as people in the neighbourhood watched the game and cheered on Korea. Those kids who missed class and got to watch the game might well have wished they didn't as Argentina won 4-1. As they bell to end the last class sounded many of us gathered round a PC to watch a stream of the game. We managed to watch the last twenty minutes which was all Argentina. At work yesterday most of my Korean co-workers were decked out in red to support their nation. The atmosphere was really good in the teachers room.

Prior to the World Cup starting I had mixed feelings about how well I wanted Korea to do. Now I really want them to go as far as they can because of my wife. She has really enjoyed watching the games. It would be great for her to see her team to win some more games.

However, I can't help think that some Koreans (I don't mean my co-workers here) set themselves up for a fall. I feel that at times expectations are a little too high. People can become overly optimistic based not on reality but on misguided hope and in the face of evident facts. Hope is an essential quality to have as a human being but realism is important too. They still regularly show the games on TV from the 2002 World Cup where Korea made the semi-finals. I think this raises expectations a little too much.

Highs here can sometimes be too high and lows too low but perhaps this can be said of most nations. They do support their country fervently and that's something very positive I find. I hope people here are not too deflated, pick themselves up and get ready for their next game as they still have a great chance to qualify for the next round.

Regardless of Korea's feelings on the outcome the result means the World Cup is now alive after a lacklustre start. I am hopeing for more goals and good attacking play from here on in - though not from England. Korea play Nigeria next week in a 3:30am kick off. I will probably stay up and watch it, as it is now and will be for weeks to come. sleeping at night is a little tricky in this humidity.

Neighbour departs

It would seem that out neighbours have got rid of their dog. Either that or the dog has passed away but I think the former is more likely. We suddenly noticed one day that we couldn't hear it when we expected to - i.e. all the time. I can't say I will miss it. It was no fun to be woken up early on Sundays and to put up with it's barking for eight hours or so.

Korean housing does not lend itself to noisy pets. Here, apartments or so called 'villas' are boxed together tightly and their is very little space between buildings. You can hear pretty much everything the neighbour does if they are a little loud so having a dog that yaps a lot can be a big distraction for people. I think the kids next door will miss the dog but certainly not us but I wonder what actually made them offload their pet.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Different sides of the fence

Tomorrow South Korea play Argentina in their second World Cup game. Like last Saturdays match, the kick off is 8:30pm local time. Great for many people, especially children who should be able to watch then. However, my academy's classes finish at 10pm. This means that a swathe of our students will be in class and won't be able to see the game. No big deal? Wrong, to me it is a big deal.

Yesterday I had a gentle disagreement with my friend and co-worker, about the fact that I think our students should be allowed to stay away from class should they choose to and to watch the game at home. If they want to come in, then fine. I am not arguing that I should be allowed to go home early but they should be given a choice and not be punished for not coming to class (those who don't come to a class have to spend time in the retest room basically substituting the time they would have spent in class).

One thing to consider is this. The students who would be in the final two classes are Middle school students. At the best of times they are often surly, sullen and miserable about being in the classroom. Right now they are studying for important school tests and starting from this week some, then eventually all of them will have retest exemption. That means that they won't be punished for not coming to class so they can stay home and study - some are forced to come by their parents though. Does anyone think our classes will be great ones tomorrow? I will be amazed if my classes are productive or have a positive atmosphere.

Here is where I stand, I think this is a matter of National importance. World Cups come around only once every four years and help bring a country together. This is important for a country like South Korea that is ultra patriotic and likes to feel good about itself and is constantly trying to portray a positive image of itself to other countries. When Kim Yu-Nah skated in the Olympics a nation stopped to watch, what use is it to have these kids excluded from following their team? Yes I am a sports fan but World Cups are not just about sports fans, they are about everyone in the country. Again, I am not arguing that I should get time off work, just that these kids should not be forced into coming for just these two classes. Do they really need to come in tomorrow? Just my thoughts.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Ready for Summer

Last night I cleaned our two fans and put up some blinds so that we can have our windows open as long as we want without neighbours being able to look in. Having already sorted out the air conditioner we are now ready for the Summer onslaught. The air conditioner isn't particularly strong but ANYTHING is better than my apartment in 2006.

Then, my first Summer in Korea, my air con was in the kitchen and effectively useless because the air would not circulate through the rest of the place. On top of that during one week where everyone was off work my fan broke. Unable to contact my manager I lived miserably which led me to head to bars and cafes in search of cool places. Why didn't I just buy myself a new fan and charge work later? At the time it felt like I was living in a volcano but I am much more used to the temperatures now and how to deal with them.

Later on we put our feet up and had some beers and enjoyed the football. This is perhaps as good as it's going to get for me in Korea this Summer so I better make the most of it. My weather resource says temperatures will get to 34°C this week. It can only get hotter and I wonder if we will get close to 40°C this time round. I estimate twelve more weeks of this left.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup fever in Korea

After a slow build up here World Cup fever finally hit South Korea. Yesterday saw Korea play and beat Greece convincingly, 2-0. I watched the game at home with my wife. We stocked up on beer and fried chicken and sat down to enjoy.

My wife doesn't really care about sport but I twisted her arm to try and get her involved and she ended up loving watching the game. Koreans really do go full out when supporting their side and proudly display their colour (red) in force with people wearing t-shirts or waving banners/plastic banging things.

Before the game we were downtown and it was pretty hectic in the build up but I am glad we didn't watch the game on a big screen somewhere. I did that in 2006 and wanted a more intimate atmosphere this time. I don't know if Korea will get out of the group stages but now they have a good chance. Expectations though are probably too high with the team here. I hope they progress as it will make the tournament experience much greater for me.

On Friday I made a point of asking every student in my classes who was going to win the World Cup. Some didn't take it seriously and 95% said Korea. When I asked them why they said "Because I am Korean". My students don't yet understand the difference between what they think is going to happen and what they want to, or they just ignore it. The annoying thing was that when one student said Korean, the others automatically followed suit. I thought I was in communist China or even North Korea for a moment. As always a group mentality prevails here.

I am happy to say that my youngest group of kids took it the most seriously and gave answers as diverse as Spain, Argentina, The Netherlands, and Brazil. My experience and conclusion (not based on my scratch survery) after over four years here is that Koreans in general don't like sport but like to be associated with victory/success/glory and the average person here has little or no knowledge of sport outside baseball. When they have a player or athelte that is famous/successful then they follow this person, i.e. Kim Yu-Na the wonderful skater. There is no culture of sport here but things are slowly changing and I guess it takes success to start the ball rolling but this nation is very different from Europe.

Regarding England, what a dreadful start and not just the appalling goal for the USA. The whole performance was demoralising. Such a contrast to the vibrant Koreans

Friday, 11 June 2010

Ready or not?

This week, my co-worker and taekwondo partner, Diana and I were talking about the upcoming black belt test. We discussed the pluses and minuses and reached a decision, to postpone our June test to August or October. Then we told out taekwondo master and he basically persuaded us to take the test in June.

He didn't bully us or make us sign up but he insisted we could pass providing we practice and memorise the poomsaes. I still have my reservations. I doubt my technique and make stupid errors on easy patterns and am uncomfortable where I am 'at' in taekwondo. I have to trust his opinion and if I fail then I fail. I need to focus on the positives - I already have 2 hapkido black belts so why would I fail now?

Well now we have only eight more sessions before our black belt test. Are we ready, or rather am I? No, I don't think so but having said that, the test is in two weeks not today. I've been a bit sick with a cold all week so there has been little intensity in my training. Hopefully this won't cost me come test day. With the World Cup starting today I fear my attention and focus will be diverted and training will be extra difficult.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Nemesis watch: Final word

One of my best mates here and a co-worker, Mark, left this morning - the office will be very different over the coming months. Everyone at work wishes him the best for his future and he certainly has an exciting one lined up. Whilst departures like this are an unfortunate consequence of my job, some exits are welcomed more easily. A couple of weeks ago my nemesis left. Well not really my nemesis but a co-worker who was 'different' from other teachers.

A co-worker who spoke to the English teachers at work a handful of times over the course of two years. Indeed she only seemed to speak to her partner teachers when they spoke to her in Korean. Maybe if I was Korean then the working relationship would have been better. A favourite with our manager, at her leaving party everyone was requested to say some words on her leaving. This was bizarre and uncomfortable for me. How can you talk about someone who simply does not talk to you and is on the surface, a cold person. I managed to say something but was my insincerity noticed?

It always felt strange to me that someone who seemed to dislike interaction in English would actually choose to be an English teacher. And then go to Australia, where she would have to speak English. Some Korean teachers grasp the opportunity to get to know co-workers, learn about other cultures and improve their English but not her. Perhaps she is destined to join the ranks of Koreans tourists who venture abroad on vacation only to hang around fellow Korean travellers and eat only ramien and ignore the whole point of travelling.

Her replacement has spoken more English in the staff room in two weeks than she did in two years.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

My wedding day in pictures

Our 'wedding lunch celebration' day turned out to be great. A special day for my wife and I to remember always. Here are some pictures taken of us, my new family and our friends.

After being introduced I was asked to say a few words

I had to write down my thoughts because I didn't want to make any mistakes

Here we are waiting for my wife's mother to say a few words

My mother in-law said very little but was very, very happy

The cake arrives and we have to blow out the candle

The cake was still defrosting so it was difficult to cut it, despite them giving us a sword

My wife and I amazed that the cake was so rock hard

My co-workers, Sang Hee, Sung Young and Nick

My wife and I enjoying the day immensely

Another co-worker shot of Sung Yong, Nick, Ivan and Jong Bae

Jong Bae, Diana and Sung Yong

Our friends, Hannah and Mark who are also set to get married

Big assembled family shot. Can you spot me?

My wife and I, with her mother and her brother

Another picture of my wife and I with her mother

Here is my mother in-laws sister and husband, and her children and their spouses

At this point my jaw was starting to ache a little but we continued - those are genuine happy smiles though!

More photos? OK, just one more

My wife really wanted to throw her bouquet and her friend caught it

Now we could sit down. Next to my co-worker, Jong Bae

Here I am with my partner teacher, Sung Yong

My mother in-law starting to relax a little

Baby loves oranges?

Baby doesn't love oranges

Two of my wife's cousins. The one on the left speaks a little English

Now my mother in-law really starting to enjoy the occasion

Cheers to a successful day!

Special thanks go out to my co-worker and friend, Ivan who took most of these pictures and of course to all those who helped make our day so memorable.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

My wedding day in Korea

I've been a little slow in writing this up, not because I didn't want to but because I've been knackered with the lead up to it, the actual day and a genuine lack of sleep afterwards so I'll try to describe things as best as I can now.

Last Saturday I had a 'Wedding celebration lunch', which ended up being basically just a wedding but without any of the vows. To explain further, my wife and I married some seven months ago but didn't have an actual wedding. Things have been great since then but at times I think my wife felt a little incomplete, like we weren't properly married so we knew we had to sort something out. In the end we decided to have lunch with some family and friends to celebrate our marriage.

In the lead up to last weekend I started to get a little nervous, which was very irrational because we've been married for so long but in truth I am a little uncomfortable dealing with crowds of people I don't know or don't know very well. I was a bit anxious and didn't sleep much and spent too much time thinking what would happen. I needn't have worried because we had such a great day.

Preparation for this didn't take as long as many weddings do but there were things to sort out which we managed to do quite easily and my wife deserves credit for all the hard work she put in. The day started at the wedding shop (don't know the technical name). The make up and hair for my wife and her immediate family took over two hours. Myself, they did put some stuff on my hair and I got dressed up in a suit which was bought a few weeks prior and then we were off to the hotel where we were maving the lunch.

After looking at a few places which could hold the number of people we wanted we settled on the Burgundy room at the hotel Novotel in Daegu. This is very central in Daegu and very easy to get in and out of. The choice proved to be a good one for us. The room where we had lunch was very good, with a view of the city centre that overlooked a park rather than the less salubrious parts.

When we got there we had to prepare some things and then to wait for the people to arrive. I waited with my wife, my mother in-law and my wife's brother. My mother in-law were wearing traditional Korean clothes (a hanbok) whilst my wife rented a wedding dress for the occasion. We greeted everyone who came. Invites were restricted to coming from my wife, myself or from my mother in-law. We thought we had invited around fifty people, but it turned out that sixty seven came, so they room filled out quite well. If forty people had come I'd have been happy but nearly everyone invited came which helped make the day special for all of us.

Inviting people was a little difficult for me. Firstly none of my family could make the trip and we had already decided that we would have some kind of celebration when we made our way back to the UK to live. Also being here for over four years I have made many friends and acquaintances and in normal circumstances would have liked to have invited many more people than I did. Because of the transient nature of my job I have met many people who have subsequently left and it would be impossible for them to come.

Here I must mention that my wife and I have been to many weddings here in Korea. Some good, some bad, some terrible and almost nothing we'd seen together that we wanted incorporated into any celebration of ours. That meant no kids running around, trying to get people not to wear jeans and baseballs caps, no electric violins, no smoke or dry-ice machines, no confetti throwing bazookas and no cheesy wedding pictures. Of course, some things we talked about not doing we ended up doing (cheesy pictures of us) but that ended up being OK.

When everyone had arrived and sat down we made our way into the room. My wife's cousins husband (phew) introduced us with some words that I have been told were kind. I really appreciated him doing that. One of the unfortunate things about having a poor command of the Korean language means I am restricted in my communication with my wife's family. I wish I could have heard what he said.

After being introduced the spotlight really was on us. This is what I was having a bit of stress with. I don't like being the centre of attention but, that's kind of the idea when you have a wedding. I had decided to make a quick speech about how much I love my wife. I had to write it down. After I had finished I saw my wife holding back tears - was my speech that bad? Well I knew she was emotional and it turns out she loved what I said, even though it was very simple it came from the heart.

I asked my wife is she wanted to say something but she was unable to at the time due to the situation. My wife has subsequently told me that she was so emotional that if she had said something then she would have cried (happy tears!) so she tried to keep her composure. Then my mother in-law said some words. This day was really about my wife and her mother. It was great for them both to have a day where everyone was celebrating them. I know they both had a great time and they really deserved that.

We then had to cut the cake that we ordered the previous week. However it was rock hard. They even gave us what resembled a sword to help cut it but to no avail. Luckily it thawed out as the afternoon went on. After that the pressure was off and we went round the tables and thanked everyone for coming and encouraged them to eat. The feedback we got was that the food was good for the situation although I have to say I wasn't able to eat much because I was a little busy just enjoying the day.

I managed to talk with a lot of my friends and Ivan my co-worker took several photos that we will treasure. Bright sunshine filled the room throughout and I think things couldn't really have gone any better. At the end of the day we were tired both physically and emotionally, but with a sense of satisfaction that would be hard to replicate. The day exceeded our expectations and will remain in our memory for a long time hopefully. We now truly feel like a married couple.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Student cloning idea

Today I was being observed by my branch manager in my last class so decided to do a little extra preparation for things to go smoothly. I wasn't nervous as this happens often but didn't know how it would go, being one of my worst classes previous to the jerk leaving. I think things went well or at least that's how it seemed for me but we shall see.

One of my very basic questions was, "When you go to University what do you want to study?" and this was met with a decent answer. I thought the class was going too quickly so I asked the question to another student and he said "I want to learn how to study how to make a girlfriend." Perhaps he'd just watched Weird Science or something but everyone thought it was pretty funny.
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